I’m at the beginning of writing a chapter for a book a colleague of mine is putting together. As often happens with me early in the writing process, I’ve been surfing around my library of books and PDFs stored on my computer, doing some Amazon and Google Scholar searches to see if I’ve missed some new interesting publication, pulling out my published books, and pulling up files of previous talks I’ve given. I’m looking for inspiration—for what I want to write and how I might write it, and for going somewhere new with something familiar. I do this throughout the day at no set times, but just interspersed with whatever else I’m doing. Over the past few weeks, I’ve realized that’s also pretty much how I eat, and I like to think of both as “grazing.”
In an hour or so of grazing this afternoon, I skimmed through a written version of a talk I gave at a conference in Norway in 2007 with the (long) title—“How Much of a Loss is the Loss of Self??Understanding Vygotsky from a Social Therapeutic Perspective and Vice Versa.” I remember having a good time writing and presenting this talk, and the lively conversation it provoked. I came across this passage from the end of the talk—and offer it as “food for thought.”
In the social therapeutic practice of constructing collectivity, the self is deconstructed, but the individual is not constrained. People remain the unique individuals they are. They gain an activistic, world-historic sense of being alive, which they often describe as “being in the world and not in my head.” And by virtue of being in the world, sans self, they can exercise their collective power to create new environments and new emotional growth—an activity that is beneficial for both the individual and the collective.